Secured behind a self-imposed barricade in the small guard room at the entrance to the Howling Caves, our adventurers bunkered down for a long night, eager to rest and refresh their spells after a grueling fight in the antechamber. Little did they know, however, that the Skum inhabiting the caves had their own machinations at work.
Some 6 hours into the night, Ella felt an uncomfortable heat pouring into the small cave room via the antechamber. Curious, she opened the solid wooden door leading outside, and great columns of hot and acrid smoke poured into the room, filling it almost immediately. While most of the party choked and coughed on the hot fumes, both the unnamed automaton and Philoctetes seemed largely unaffected. Only Ella’s quick wit in fashioning a makeshift gasmask from wet cloth saved her from suffocation. Grabbing for their gear, the party immediately fled from the room, through the antechamber and past a large bonfire and out of the cave mouth – and directly into a Skum ambush!
Fighting off the ambush as well as they could, the party decided to return to [[Barrow’s Edge[[ to regroup. Once there, Ella elected to stay behind in order to recover from her grueling brush with death. While in the hamlet, the party finds and is recruited by a fellow adventurer; the Avyan ranger, Ravenclaw, who joins our heroes as they return to the caves to resume their adventure.
They find the cave entrance to be much more heavily guarded, but through great tactical fighting they press through the antechamber. Once within they encounter a champion of the Skum – a Skaven fighter called Laughing Dog, who nearly defeats the party before he is slain.
The cave network opens into an exceptionally well-crafted hallway, with flagstones and smooth stone masonry on the wall, obviously not of Skum craftsmanship. Once within the tunnels themselves, our adventurers find a small alcove guarded by two undead Skum, where they find some magic potions and a series of Druidic journal entries written in a crude bastardization of Druidic. Kurginn sets to work on deciphering the script immediately. Directly across the hall from the small room, they also find a ruined stone shrine, where a magical font is discovered which heals the party from their wounds. The shrine, covered by plaster engraved with sinister markings, holds several secrets: the plaster is cracked and removed to reveal that the shrine is to the Dwarven god Moradin – an unprecedented and astounding find, since no Dwarf has ever been known to worship any deity for as long as anyone can recall. Additionally, a magically trapped compartment in the altar reveals a cache of armor, weapons, and potions, which the party takes. Finally, scrolls hidden in the compartment suggest that these tunnels were built by the Dwarves to guard against some terrible secret hidden beneath, in passages called the Underdark, but no mention of what that secret could be, or where these Underdark passages are, can be found in the mysterious writs.
Our heroes secure the shrine against attackers by barricading the great stone doors leading back to the tunnel network, and prepare to rest from another grueling day of slaying Skum…